A recent court ruling from the New South Wales Family Court has attempted to unravel the conditions of a divorce, following one of the parties receiving a significant share of a will.
Legal action was brought by a woman against her former husband, following the pair's divorce in 2011. At around the same time, the ex-husband received a number of inheritances - from both his parents and two grandparents who all passed away between 2008 and 2011.
As a result of these financial gains, the wife argued that she had not received adequate provisions as a result of the divorce. This rested on the new-found wealth of her former partner, her role as the primary caregiver for their two sons and the fact that she was currently only employed part-time because of this responsibility.
As a result, the wife sought three different provisions - an adjustment to the joint property which was shared as a result of the divorce, financial support for the two children and ongoing spousal maintenance.
The request for spousal maintenance was rejected, however the other two claims were accepted by the court, with the child support totaling $140,000. The court found that the ex-husband had not been entirely upfront about his own financial position and accordingly altered the provision that his wife was entitled to.
This case highlights a number of key factors that can affect divorce proceedings. For both parties, it is important to be transparent about any financial gains that might influence the outcome of divorce proceedings, especially around inheritance.
At the same time, individuals need to take care when drafting wills to take into account the financial and personal considerations of the recipients. If a beneficiary of a will is going through a divorce or has a rocky relationship, it might be worth leaving their share of an estate in a testamentary trust, which means it won't be considered part of their assets.
No matter what your individual position, it pays to consult with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible, once you have made the decision to split. They will be able to guide you through these proceedings and also advise on disclosing your financial position. Choosing a divorce law firm who also work in wills and estates can give an added level of protection, especially if you have recently inherited part of an estate.